Lisa Wilkinson and Peter FitzSimons and have canned their traditional Australia Day party after enduring the ‘worst year of their lives’ in 2022.
The high-profile couple’s annual barbecue at their harbourside mansion was one of most-anticipated events of the year for Sydney‘s A-list, boasted guests from prime ministers and television stars to chefs, comedians and journalists.
The outspoken republicans rebranded the famous January 26 bash as an ‘Independence Day’ party in 2020, but it was shelved in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The star-studded event returned last year but was pushed back a month to February 26, with previous invitees struck off the guest list.
It’s been revealed the couple will not be hosting a bash this year after a year from hell with friends speculating whether it has been canned for good.
The couple were never far from the headlines in 2022 with FitzSimons under fire for his controversial interview with Indigenous senator Jacinta Price and Wilkinson in hot water over her Logies speech about her interview with Brittany Higgins.
Following widespread backlash, Wilkinson eventually quit as host of The Project.
An unnamed friend said the couple felt ‘bruised’ after a tumultuous 2022.
The future of Peter FitzSimons and Lisa Wilkinson’s famous annual Australia Day bash is reportedly in doubt after their year of hell
COUPLE’S ‘WORST YEAR EVER’
February 2022: Peter FitzSimons and Lisa Wilkinson’s famous Australia Day party as A-list friends at their harbourside mansion returns after a two year hiatus, rebranded as Independence Day
May: Wilkinson’s tell-all memoir It Wasn’t Meant To Be Like This is reduced to as little as $5 as she embarks on a national book tour to address claims she omitted key details
June: Wilkinson wins a Logie award for her interview with Brittany Higgins. Her acceptance speech results in Higgins’ rape trial being delayed
August: Fitzsimons interviews Aboriginal Senator Jacinta Price for the Sydney Morning Herald where the pair slash over the Indigenous Voice to Parliament
September: FitzSimons renewed calls for Australia to become a republic shortly after the Queen’s death
October: FitzSimons steps down as head of the Australian Republic Movement
November: Wilkinson quits as host of The Project but remains contacted to Channel 10
‘They feel they’ve had the worst year of their lives: Fitzy with the controversy over his Jacinta Price interview, and Lisa, who felt she was unfairly targeted by sections of the media during the whole Brittany Higgins affair,’ the friend told The Australian.
‘So, as a result, they’re not having a party.’
Then-opposition leader Anthony Albanese and his girlfriend Jodie Haydon were guests of honour at last year’s shindig along with Magda Szubanski, stars from Channel 10’s The Project and ABC journalists.
A notable omission was ABC Q+A presenter Stan Grant, 12 months after he mercilessly mocked the annual bash as ‘a woke lefty love-in’ full of ‘journos, actors, writers, a couple of ex-Wallabies, a few washed-up politicians… and a former managing director of the ABC’.
Grant had contributed a chapter to a serialised murder mystery published in The Australian in February 2021 – but his narrative centred around the real-life Australia Day party hosted by the power couple, reigniting his rift with FitzSimons.
‘Everyone there voted yes for same-sex marriage – the year before last, they’d all tearily applauded their first gay married couple guests – they hated the Catholic Church and had cried when Kevin Rudd said sorry,’ he wrote.
‘There were dot paintings on the wall, a photo with their arms around Cathy Freeman at Sydney Olympic Stadium and a framed copy of Paul Keating’s Redfern Statement signed by the last great Australian Prime Minister himself.’
Friends say Lisa Wilkinson (right) felt unfairly targeted following the fallout from her Logie award acceptance speech for her interview with Brittany Higgins (left)
Stan Grant was a noticeable omission from the guest list from last year’s bash
2022 got off to a shaky start with Wilkinson’s memoir It Wasn’t Meant To Be Like This dramatically discounted at major retailers to as little as $5.
She began a national tour to promote her book to address criticism of her memoir – including allegations she omitted key details about her pay dispute with former employer Channel Nine.
In June, Wilkinson won a Logie award for her powerful television interview with former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins who alleged she was raped by a colleague in Parliament House in 2019.
She praised Ms Higgins in her acceptance speech which directly led to the trial of Ms Higgins’ accused rapist being delayed.
The fallout led to past and present colleagues and rivals from various networks to slam Wilkinson.
The fallout from her tell-all memoir continued to plague Lisa Wilkinson in 2022
In August, FitzSimons interviewed Aboriginal senator Jacinta Price for the Sydney Morning Herald, where the pair clashed about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
The senator claimed was ‘aggressive’ and ‘rude’ to her during the interview.
Weeks later, FitzSimons wasted no time in calling for a republic following the Queen’s death with the Australian Republic Movement issuing a statement just 17 minutes after it was announced she had passed.
He stepped down as head of the ARM after seven years at the helm.
‘The passing of Queen Elizabeth II confirms that decision, as the whole campaign moves to a new phase,’ he said at the time.
‘A new generation is now stepping up to lead the campaign, many of which were too young to vote when the last referendum was held – some of which were not yet even born.’
Lisa Wilkinson has been off-air since stepping down as host of The Project in November
Wilkinson abruptly quit The Project in November after four years on the panel, citing ‘targeted toxicity’ from sections of the media as the reason for her exit.
She hasn’t returned to the screens but is still collecting a ‘seven-figure salary’ from Ten thanks to the ‘watertight’ deal she signed in 2021.
FitzSimons continues to be outspoken about the republican movement and last week commended the Reserve Bank’s decision to not replace the late monarch with King Charles III on the new $5 note.
He welcomed Thursday’s decision as a huge step forward.
‘Next thing: in what places across Australia is the official portrait of ‘King Charles’ up, and how soon can they be taken down?,’ he tweeted.
It’s been another tumultuous year for the high profile couple (pictured)